ウィッチズガーデン – Thoughts

This marks the first game down for the month, though there aren’t many stories I’m interested in reading this month, each of the ones I chose to read appear to be relatively long. At the very least this one took a while to chew through.

Witch’s garden is obviously most famous for the e-mote system it comes with and indeed, the e-mote system was pleasant even though you could point out that humans do not act so bouncily. The e-mote system served to give a larger array of expressions, of which I always found VNs to be lacking in at times.

That said, just having an e-mote system isn’t sufficient for it to be a good game, well okay admittedly 70% of the reason I came to actually play it was because of the e-mote system but in any case, there’s still the matter of the actual story.

In that area, as pointed out in impressions, it felt like a more refined Campanella in terms of atmosphere and how lively the story is. Namely speaking they scratched out the bits that made me want to fall asleep. Though I’m sure there were people who managed to go through Campanella without falling asleep as well.

For the most part the story is a light hearted slice of life, there was some minor foreshadowing but it was basically something you could shrug off until it actually happened.

KazashiroOur protagonist Yousuke arrives at the famous tourist city, Kazashiro. A city famed for being a “different world” with medieval styled surroundings, castle walls and performers which set the atmosphere of the city. He came here to attend school in the city and during that period, he’ll be living with his aunt Yuuko who surprises him by revealing that there’s one more person that he’ll be living with, Ayari who is also a “witch”.

Soon after arriving at Kazashiro, Yousuke gets to see “magic” with his own eyes. Though amazing and somewhat incomprehensible how it’s possible, surely there’s some sort of trick behind it. Going around town, he meets two other witches which are both vastly different from Ayari as well as his older sister figure Ririko who he has always yearned to since he was small.

To explain a bit of the setting before moving on, as said Kazashiro is a famous tourist city. In order to provide a better atmosphere fitting of the setting, there are performers called “avatars” for various roles in the city. Among the avatars, the most famous roles would be the “witches” and the “knights”. Most notably because of a certain event that occurs twice a month, the night parade. Once according to a schedule, another occurring at random times during the month.

The night parade essentially consists of “monsters” appearing to attack the city, while the knights and witches will fight off the monsters and save the city, drawing out a pretty large scale performance.

We may stop and inevitably ask how they manage to pull off such performances but it has essentially become something like a courtesy to not ask about the tricks behind the performances. After all, the entire city is essentially one big theme park.

After seeing various avatars, Yousuke took interest in becoming an avatar as well and began asking around for what kind of avatars there are and the various things they do. In the end he settles on the road of the knight, as he partially came to Kazashiro because of Ririko, who has became a knight avatar.

Around this point is where routes begin splitting, he inevitably ends up as a knight in every route but depending on the route in question, the knight part of him is essentially thrown out of the window until it’s relevant. The only exception to this is Ririko route which I started off with first, in Ririko route we completely follow the knight line of things.

RirikoFirst off some background detail. Ririko and Yousuke first met 5 years from the start of the story. They met during childhood with two years difference, Ririko was somewhat isolated because of her odd Japanese but Yousuke didn’t mind the slightest, and instead yearned after her because of her skill with the sword. They eventually separated as Ririko had to return to her home country (what was it again?) but they still kept in contact through mails. Eventually he hears about Ririko going to Kazashiro and thus Yousuke began to become interested in Kazashiro, eventually triggering the start of the story.

Yousuke begins as an “unofficial” knight as he has various things to learn before he can become a true knight.

The route essentially focuses on Yousuke’s road to becoming a knight, as well as his eventual relationship with Ririko before finally entering the more serious part of the story, the revelation that (un)surprisingly the city does not only consist of witches that perform some magic tricks and robot monsters created for the performance. The well kept secret in the city is that there’s also true witches and true monsters. With the former belonging to the scheduled night parade and the latter belonging to the erratic night parade.

RirikoEventually Yousuke’s efforts pay off and he becomes a true knight, forming a pair with Ririko and all. Well the story doesn’t stop here but as there’s little of interest I’ll leave it at this.

Next up is Misumi and Eclair routes.

Misumi, EclairThis was…. a low point of the story. As said, routes other than Ririko essentially throws the part that Yousuke is striving to become a knight out of the window with a few honorary mentions here and there.

Both of their routes were relatively average and for the most part, if it weren’t for their characters it wouldn’t have been interesting at all. Because story-wise it felt like a huge facepalm.

...Both Misumi and Eclair routes essentially revolve around the same plot point, so you can group them together, the only difference is who Yousuke actually falls in love with. The plot point in question begins with the revelation that Eclair is, gasp, not human. She’s an android created by Misumi’s mother who passed away in an accident before she could complete Eclair, and because Eclair is run on magic she can’t leave Kazashiro despite how she apparently yearns to see the outside world.

p798Upon hearing this, the first thing that came to mind at least for me is to create a battery. Seeing as it wasn’t mentioned however, I assumed it was simply difficult or impossible since unlike electricity, we’re dealing with magic. As if I would know how the principles of that works. Speaking of which, if I understood that right, doesn’t that basically mean Eclair would be capable of replenishing energy out of… well… nothing? Well either way, as mentioned, Misumi’s mother died before it could finish and no one could succeed the research as most documentary was lost during the accident.

In any case, I shrugged off that thought and continued but…

Once we reached the big problem of how they would bring Eclair outside, In Misumi route they came to the idea of using a bloody battery after all. That came off as retarded, why did it take that long to come up with that idea? I could accept it if it were simply difficult but they actually went off and finished it in around a week after coming up with the idea. That just begs the question of why.

Meanwhile in Eclair’s route they basically took the hard way around by Misumi succeeding her mother’s research and supposedly completing Eclair in the epilogue. Can’t say much about Eclair route as I just rushed through it after the disappointing answer in Misumi route.

...Just about half way through the game and now, to Suzuno route.

SuzunoIn Suzuno’s route the story returns in full swing as right off the bat, beginning at a certain night parade, Yousuke runs into Ayari and his aunt Yuuko being attacked by a stray monster. They were saved by Suzuno but at the same time It’s revealed Ayari lost her memories during the night parade. It was already foreshadowed during other routes so it didn’t come as a surprise to me. I was, if anything, more surprised about how deeply Ayari was tied into Suzuno’s route.

...As you can guess, Suzuno’s route for the most part revolves around how Suzuno and Yousuke fight to regain Ayari’s memories. Only for the shocking truth to be revealed, which is that Ayari is a somewhat special witch and that this isn’t quite the first time she lost her memories.

To begin with we trace things back to premise. The foundation is that Kazashiro is some sort of magical city with magic only existing in the city premises, hence as soon as Eclair leaves Kazashiro she’ll essentially experience a power cut and shut off.

Now there’s a simple doubt, where does this magic come from to begin with? Why does it only reside in Kazashiro? The answer to this is simple, behind the “true” witches there are… uh… truly true witches. Basically there are three types of witches. The first is the kind of magicians that just show random tricks using magical items that activate on certain actions, keywords. Misumi is this sort of witch. The second is the kind which practice magic, usually through some medium which serves as a wand. Suzuno belongs in this type. The third kind is the “original” witches who naturally have magic within their body and can freely practice magic without much knowledge necessary. This is what Ayari is.

So to put things simply, the reason Ayari lost her memories is a sort of side effect of getting her magic extracted from her in order to keep the city running. After all, Kazashiro is at a point of which it can no longer exist without magic. Much like trying to remove electricity out of our modern world.

Hence it is not the first time that Ayari lost her memories, she loses her memories every month when she gets her magic extracted from her, and the person entrusted with the task of doing this is essentially a figure similar to the mayor of Kazashiro, who is also Suzuno’s master, she’s probably the strongest witch in the city. Meanwhile Yuuko on the other hand is a sort of manager for Ayari. After all, they can’t just extract magic from Ayari then let her do whatever she wants when she has no memories whatsoever. Er well, she still remembers that she’s a witch as well as the city but that’s about it.

Only picture I have of her

Only picture I have of her

As such, the story revolves around how to help the poor, poor Ayari. The fact that she’s usually so innocent and happy probably makes things all the more painful.

For time being, through the combined efforts of Suzuno and Yousuke they managed to get the rights to do the extraction magic from Ayari, since as said, it’s pretty difficult to just scratch out magic from the city. From there, they came up with an idea to help Ayari retain her memories even after getting magic extracted from her.

...Though as a side effect of this, Ayari’s hair and eyes will become similar to Suzuno… well all’s fine in this case. While it’s ultimately a happy ending, at this point I couldn’t help but think that the following route (Ayari’s) is going to be… drama ridden. I mean this route was okay because at least the person Yousuke loved was Suzuno but once we get to Ayari route we’re going to inevitably be seeing Yousuke get forgotten by Ayari at least once. That’s… pretty dramatic alright.

...On another note before I move on: Suzuno is the best girl and I accept no objections. I like the way they handled the heroine routes in this story as there’s something ticklish about how Suzuno keeps going on about how she’s Yousuke’s woman after reaching that part of the story.

Finally we’re at Ayari route, its been a long journey (for me).

In Ayari’s route, as expected, we deal with her memory being reset and Ayari forgetting all of her memories with Yousuke. Fortunately in Ayari route some bits of important information is revealed, namely that Ayari remembers Yuuko even after resets. This seems to basically imply that if the person is very important, Ayari will keep some sort of vague memory regarding them. Well at least enough to not look at them and go “who are you?”.

That blood curdling scream ;_;

That blood curdling scream ;_;

This story frankly started to make me remember Seishun Forget in how the heroine keeps forgetting the protagonist. Moving on, it’s also revealed that there’s a more important reason behind the extraction of magic from Ayari. It’s hardly that the “city is dependent on magic so we can’t possibly stop now!” but the reverse— the city was created for the very purpose of extracting magic from Ayari and other witches. Though Ayari is exceptional, most witches only come off with minor, selected memory loss or other minor effects after magic extraction. Ayari on the other hand is an unprecedentedly powerful witch and as a result of this, her memory practically resets with every extraction.

As a matter of fact, when Ayari arrived the city did not even have the sufficient equipment to extract all of her magic, which is why they decided to hold the night parade and even sent Ayari herself out to participate in the night parade so that she can consume magic herself. Now the remaining question is, why do they need to go to such extents to extract magic out of Ayari?

The answer is that her powers do not awaken. Essentially witches like her will create magic just by living. Once they accumulate a certain amount of magic power, they will awaken. By the point of awakening, they will warp the world around them, this is what creates the true monsters in the night parade. So essentially unless you intend to flat out kill her, if she intends to live peacefully as a normal girl, this is the only way of going around things.

...With the tl;dr explanations finished, thankfully Yousuke is fairly reasonable and (eventually) understands that they can’t just stop the magic extraction. Instead Yousuke desperately tries to help carve happy memories into Ayari so that she can hopefully retain memories of him and the others around her.

This route essentially ends as one big: NORMAL END with Ayari recognizing Yousuke after the reset, can’t quite call it a happy ending since she has to get magic extracted from her every month anyway.

...Now with this, all that’s left is the true route.

This was pretty entertaining though stupid when looking at it from another viewpoint.

First off, this follows along the same lines as the beginning of Ayari route. There’s just one difference, instead of Ayari receiving the first extraction after Yousuke’s arrival and losing all memories of Yousuke, Yousuke falls in love with Ayari a tad bit earlier and essentially runs away with Ayari… on the exact day Ayari was supposed to get magic extracted from her.

...The result? Ayari awakens as a witch and things take a turn for the worse (BAD END anyone?)

Yousuke gets captured for a full week, Ayari’s whereabouts are unknown but probably just trapped somewhere receiving magic extraction. Monsters are roaming about the city and the citizens have all been evacuated into shelters.

Omitting details, let’s just say Yousuke gets saved, makes it to the shelter where his other companions are waiting, during a patrol with Ririko a mid-boss monster appears with Ayari for some reason in its hand (was it ever explained why it rescued Ayari?), they defeat the monster and rescue Ayari, now Ayari and Yousuke are finally reunited.

...During the more peaceful period of the story, various background stories are revealed, including Yuuko’s past, the fact that she’s a witch and that she originally moved to the city to receive magic extraction as well. Fortunately unlike Ayari, her magic power is weak so she only came off with little side effects, though at this point her magic power is apparently gone(?).

Going along with the story, Yousuke receives some upgrades here and there, a shield that can repel all magic, a sword that can slay monsters and witches with ease, at that point I felt he was practically a level 99 hero going around steam rolling fodder monsters.

While at it, Misumi completes Eclair thus solving the problem of “magic supply” for the city, the extraction of magic from witches is no longer a necessity, that’s one problem solved at least. Though I really shouldn’t be commenting about logic in a setting with magic but when you stop and think of it, these inventions are pretty ridiculous if you think about it for a minute. It’s fine because they’re in a peaceful story where everyone is universally kind and gentle but if it were another setting… heh. Anyway, let’s move on.

Suddenly along the way a dragon appears. Looks like it’s mob boss time.

Usually this is where you think some sort of epic battle is incoming but…

In reality I actually pitied the dragon. His role was basically to appear, imitate the characters, talk a bit about the existence of witches, then proceed to fight and go down without much effort. Poor, poor dragon. What did you expect really? Yousuke is equipped with an overpowered sword, shield and more importantly, plot armor. Despite amassing knights to fight the dragon, they basically didn’t even get much spotlight once the battle began. It was also funny how the intelligent dragon flat out stops speaking and goes back to roaring here and there. It truly came off as his existence only being there to provide a bit of explanations and once that finished, he needed to get erased from the story, pitiable indeed.

To be honest at this point, because I was a little tight on time I was rushing through the story so that I didn’t need to leave before finishing the story and end up getting stuck on a cliffhanger for the rest of the day. But if I didn’t catch things wrongly, did they basically just… shrug off the fact that Ayari is a walking disaster? Did I miss some sort of detail implying that Ayari’s powers could be suppressed? Because all I heard was that when asking what the citizens of Kazashiro think about Ayari’s situation, they just wrote it off as fun so all’s good.

Hopefully someone can correct me on that as I don’t feel like rereading it.

Eh well with Ayari’s problems “resolved” they go on to fight the last boss of the story, Yuuko.

...Mind you, she’s the last boss but not in the sudden plot twist sense. Without bothering with details, just think of it as some sort of atonement for putting Ayari into a reset loop for the past 4 or so years. Not sure if that describes the scene well but whatever works at this point.

Yuuko gets defeated after a difficult battle and the story finally draws to an end.

...

Definitely an above average story, be it just for the characters or the e-mote system. I came in just expecting a charage but I came out with something resembling a story. Well I mean, I suppose I’ve seen worse stories and there’s little expectations for a masterpiece coming out of a story like this but there are some admittedly awkward parts in the story that felt like it could’ve been dealt with better.

Regardless of that, it was a very enjoyable story, probably will be memorable for a variety of reasons. I hope other eroge makers will eventually follow up and make use the e-mote system as well since my experience of it has generally been positive. I’m probably going to miss it now that the story has ended.

Next up is Alicetale, the only VN other than this one that I’m looking forward to this month, hope it doesn’t disappoint.

終わり

終わり

2 thoughts on “ウィッチズガーデン – Thoughts

  1. Just finished this. I also found it enjoyable. The Emote system brings out the charms of the girls, and the setting was surprisingly well used (for what I was expecting at least).

    “Did I miss some sort of detail implying that Ayari’s powers could be suppressed?”

    Her powers couldn’t be suppressed, but decided to use the monster generation as a perpetual night parade with tourist participation, because
    “they just wrote it off as fun so all’s good”

  2. waifu: Suzuno, Ayari (I want more Suzuno, though)
    ultradorable: Akeno

    3 weeks, and finished, overall a good read. I like it for the bishoujos, light atmosphere, and e-mote system. The plot is mixed, I thought the main drama in Misumi, Eclair, Ririko routes was disposable filler.

    True ending is okay, but… it’s (unintentionally) funny how Suzuno and Gorou fell like cardboard against Yuuko. Then, don’t pop up again until the epilogue. And yes, the monster pops. Suddenly not a problem because it’s fun.

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